DALE Williams rocks a beard, ponytail, colourful clothes and heavily tattooed arms and might not have the traditional look of a successful businessman but it just goes to prove looks can be deceiving.
After enjoying his own business success, Mr Williams now helps young people to do the same
The New Zealander was in Warrnambool for the Engaging Employers at the Regional Level – Great South Coast Policy Forum.
Mr Williams began his career as an apprentice and now has gone full circle to help young people find the work they love. He never finished school but his decision to become an apprentice motorcycle mechanic set him on the road to success.
By age 23 he had his own dealership and 20 years later he was able to step back from the industry and dedicate himself to the community as a councillor where his passion for youth and jobs led to an amazing local turnaround.
Shortly after being elected mayor, he heard about local businesses threatening to leave the town because they couldn’t find suitable employees.
He sought government help but found little more than wordy documents, so Mr Williams set about doing something about it at a local level.
He established a trade training centre, held careers expos about local jobs, developed local trade brochures, worked with industry to ensure training met their needs for skilled labour, and introduced a mentoring program.
The region now consistently has New Zealand’s lowest youth unemployment rates.
He has introduced a Community Ownership and Leadership (COAL) movement that promotes a strong youth-to-work strategy.
“Communities have to recognise issues and build relationships to provide opportunities,” he said.
“We need to do more to invest in the next generation of staff and build different pathways. I’ve never met a kid who didn’t want to work. An apprentice qualification should be as important as a degree. The thing I’m most proud of is my certificate framed on the wall.”